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Rules of conflict: questions and reflections

Michele Frankeni  |  03 May 2019

A number of armed conflicts are occurring around the world, but even in times of war there are laws.

Read and consider the Red Cross blog on international humanitarian law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Australian Catholics story A universal undertaking.


  • According to International Humanitarian Law what do the laws of war mean?
  • What is the aim of these laws?
  • Why do you think the laws are necessary?
  • How do you think they are, or can be, enforced?
  • Are there any cross-over between these laws and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
  • What was the impetus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
  • Do you think the work of the five people in A universal undertaking contributed to International Humanitarian Law and/or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?


Game of Thrones is a popular fantasy television program that has featured numerous realistic wars and skirmishes. Lawyers with Red Cross International Humanitarian Law recently analysed how many of characters in the show had either violated or complied with Humanitarian Laws.

Working in groups, decide on a movie or book that includes conflicts. It could be any of the super-hero movies or the battle for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books and movies. Complete your own list of violations and compliance. For example, both in the book and movie Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, Harry makes efforts to make sure that the younger students are not caught up in the conflict ­– compliance with the protection of civilians.

Prepare a report to present to the class. Were there grey areas where those involved could have or should have done more? How could they be censured or made to comply?

For younger students

Teachers read or summarise A universal undertaking. Discuss with your students how the five people tried to ensure the rights and dignity of each person is upheld and why that’s important. Talk with them about making good choices.

Make a poster for the classroom that displays three questions.

  1. Is the thing I’m choosing to do a good thing?
  2. Am I choosing to do it for the right reasons?
  3. Am I choosing to do it at the right time and place?

Have the students work in pairs. Give each pair a situation involving a difficult decision. One student will be responsible for making the decision while the other will be the decision-maker’s ‘inner voice’, whispering the three questions and listening to the answers. Present a moral-choice situation to the larger group and invite the pairs to consider their choices. Swap roles for the next dilemma, which can be everyday situations such as what to do when they break something, what to do if they’re told they must finish a chore before they can go out, if they see a child being picked on.

Finish by reminding the children to ask themselves these questions, to ask the advice of an adult, and to pray to the Holy Spirit for help in making good choices.


Topic tags: valuesandmoraldecision-making, heroesandrolemodels

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